Friday, April 12, 2024
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Argentina defeats Croatia 3-0 to reach the World Cup final. It was the fifth time Argentina has played in a World Cup semifinal (defeating the USA in 1930, Belgium in 1986, Italy in 1990 and the Netherlands in 2014). It was Messi’s fifth goal of the tournament (and his third assist), moving him just ahead of France’s Kylian Mbappé for the tournament Golden Boot competition. This was his 25th World Cup match and he joins Lothar Matthäus for all-time appearances in FIFA games.

Argentina and Croatia both played conservatively at the beginning of the game in an effort to avoid making a mistake. But after a half-hour, Argentina grabbed charge and never looked back.

When Julián lvarez and Croatian goalkeeper Dominik Livakovi faced off in the 32nd minute, Livakovi knocked lvarez down, earning a penalty kick. Then Lionel Messi, a star for Argentina, took the initiative and did what he seemingly usually does. He struck the ball high and to the right with calm and composure, giving his team a 1-0 lead.

Lvarez had not finished. He launched a counterattack in the 39th minute and dribbled all the way from midfield, racing through three Croatian defenders before lofting the ball past Livakovi to put Argentina ahead 2-0 at the break.

Against Croatia, Messi and lvarez had one more brilliant moment as a team. Messi had incredible ball control in the 69th minute against Croatian goalkeeper Joko Gvardiol on the right side of the net. Then Messi connected with Alvarez, who scored to make it 3-0. Only two of Croatia’s twelve attempts on goal were successful.

Only one of their previous 41 international games had Argentina lost, coming into this encounter (28 wins, 12 draws).
On Sunday, Argentina will take on the winner of the semifinal matchup between France and Morocco on Wednesday. The World Cup competition for Croatia is still ongoing. It will compete against the loser of tomorrow’s semifinal in the third-place game on Saturday.


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